Materialism is immediately taken as the opposition in this topic here, but it's really just scientific investigation and discovery.
And by any chance you think there's research without metaphysical bias? Really? You live in a dream pal.
When scientific finding is clung to it can result in materialism, but science never holds a position always being open to development when new information is attained. It is actually religion that most often attempts to supply definite answers to everything instead of honestly admitting we don't yet know. All the popular religions do this. Buddhism does it just as much as Christianity.
Oh is it? Let me give you a clear example where this didn't happen:
The eminent Italian physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani, one of the founders of experimental biology, published a modest but heretical proposal. Long intrigued by the ability of bats to fly in total darkness without bumping into things, he set out to discover how they did it. He reasoned that they must be using one of their five senses, and in a series of extremely cruel experiments he maimed bats by destroying their senses one by one, blinding them, blocking their ears or even cutting them off, eliminating their sense of smell and removing their tongues.
It soon became clear to him that it was the sense of hearing that bats needed in order to avoid obstacles. But hearing what? Bats made no audible sounds as they flew, and little if anything was known in the 18th century about ultrasound, the secret of bats’ success as nocturnal navigators. As they fly, they emit beams of up to 50,000 cycles per second - more than twice the upper limit of human hearing - and ‘read’ the returning echoes.
There was no sign in 1794 of a normal explanation for the bat’s navigating skills, so the scientific establishment did what it tends to do on these occasions - it made one up. Its chief spokesman was the French naturalist Georges Cuvier, a pioneer in both anatomy and palaeontology. He decreed, in a paper published in 1795, that “to us, the organs of touch seem sufficient to explain all the phenomena which bats exhibit”.
He had it all worked out. Bats’ wings were “richly supplied with nerves of every type”, which could somehow or other receive impressions of heat, cold and resistance. Yet whereas Spallanzani, and several colleagues whom he persuaded to repeat his experiments, reached their unanimous conclusion only after numerous experiments, Cuvier solved the problem without having performed a single one. It was, as the 20th century bat expert Robert Galambos noted, “a triumph of logic over experimentation”. It was also a triumph of ignorance over knowledge. One of Spallanzani’s colleagues had actually thought of the sensitive-wing theory and tested it, by putting bats in an all-white room and coating their wingtips with some kind of black stuff that would come off on the walls and various white objects if the bats’ wings touched them. They didn’t. Cuvier’s explanation soon found its way into the textbooks, and stayed there until the start of the 20th century, when independent researchers in France and the USA published yet more experimental evidence in support of Spallanzani’s theory. Then, in 1920, a British researcher named Hartridge who had helped to develop the first naval sonar systems during World War 1, published the first clearly stated theory of bat navigation by ultrasound. This was duly confirmed, using newly developed recording devices, by Galambos and his colleague Donald Griffin, who published their results in 1941 - nearly a century and a half after Spallanzani.
I can go on with another example: continental drift. Wegener's hypothesis was received with ridicule. For decades, other geologists scoffed at the idea of drifting continents. In fact, Wegener heard mostly ridicule of his continental drift idea during his lifetime and died a sad man, as only in 1960s oceanic data convinced scientists that continents do indeed move.
I could still go on with dozens of similar cases, but perhaps it is better if I share an article to see if you grow over your naive opinion about the scientific establishment: http://web.missouri.edu/~hanuscind/8710/Barber1961.pdf
But what we're talking about here really is the Buddhist perspective on consciousness versus what science has been able to reveal, and what justification there is for the Buddhist beliefs in the face of science. Neuroscience is the most rapidly growing field. We've learned more about than brain in the past 20 years than ever before.
Indeed. We learned a lot about the brain and practically nothing about consciousness. All we know is that there may be neural correlates to it, yet to be discovered.
We don't know the necessary and sufficient causes of consciousness, we have no explanation for its arising, we don't know its fate... in fact it's a bit hard to find a consensus about what it is. Epiphenomenalism entails a self defeating internal inconsistency that most people convinced by it overlook.
The emergence hypothesis is just that, an hypothesis based on specific metaphysical predilections, not facts.
We already have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the brain that's correct. It's not fully understood, but we do have a lot of knowledge about it. I don't know if you ever took neuroanatomy, neurology or any classes on neuroscience. If you did, then you know we know A LOT about the brain. It would be expected that we already had discovered more on consciousness, but that's not the case. One of the reasons is because when we look a the brain processes we aren't informed about mental events or vice versa. So the the problem is that this knowledge about the brain sheds little light about consciousness or mental phenomena in general.
For instance, we can study a television and know it's components, their relations and so on and so forth very well. But if we believe the information transmitted is being created by the apparel (forgetting the broadcasting network), we will always imagine we still know very little about it, not because we still don't know each and every component and its function, but because we still haven't figured out how the hell is the TV creating the broadcast.
Perhaps it's an assumption that leads us to imagine we still know little about the brain. The assumption that consciousness must be built by it. In fact, we know a lot about the brain. It's one of the best studied organs. Sure, there's a lot of work ahead, but it's a matter of detail.
We just know very little about consciousness, but perhaps this is because we are assuming the brain is producing it. So we simply assume that our knowledge of the brain must be underdeveloped, since we are a long way from figuring out how the hell does it do it. Nevertheless, there might be the case that concerning neuroscience, we already know pretty much all there is to know in general terms. Our knowledge may increase in terms of quantity (understanding better the function and functioning of a cell, a tissue, connections, etc.) , but in terms of a significant quality shift, I'm just not seeing that happening.
In such a case, it means the same thing as saying "A miracle has occurred" or "At step 4 some magic happens". The speaker has exactly the same knowledge of the mechanism - none whatsoever.
The model states that the combined neural and glial system with multiple synapses and astrocytes interacting electrically and chemically results in the emergent property of consciousness.
You are confusing me a little here.
Let me try to understand. You are saying that it's safe to assume the brain produces consciousness because we have limited knowledge to explain this proposal?
I'm not sure I'm getting you, because using our knowledge limitation to make an assertion makes no sense.
Perhaps what you mean is that you believe that with future knowledge we will be able to explain how the brain produces consciousness. Well, it may very well be so, but since I can't predict the future for the time being I prefer to suspend my beliefs on that, especially because they contradict empiricism.
Computers can be fully reduced to (= described in terms of) elementary particles and fundamental forces, i. e. there is no computation property that is 'produced' by them. If the same is true for brains, i. e. if they are fully reducible to elementary particles and fundamental forces, then the consequence is that no new properties are produced by them. This is at odds with the physicalist position, which precisely holds that there *is* a property that is produced by brains and vanishes when the brain dissolves. So the physicalists, in order to maintain their position, have to hold that there is something about consciousness that is irreducible to elementary particles and fundamental forces, which makes it unlike computation. what you seem to be forgetting is that the ascription of syntactical properties is always relative to an agent or observer who treats certain physical phenomena as syntactical. Not mattering the abstract level in computation, we built it, a human, conscious mind is behind it. Computational operations can be analyzed into progressively simpler units, until eventually we reach simple flip-flop, "yes-no", "1-0" patterns and these involving simple physical changes in hardware components. The fact remains that if we analyse a mental event into its simpler components we don't get neurons! And this should be freaking obvious by now. If I look at the physical components of a computer, the state of these components (0 or 1) and all the logical relations registered physically there (registered as 0 or 1 again), I can see the computation. That's all there is to computation in the end. Theoretically, it could be done with valves or even highly trained pigeons or cats. It just would take a lot of pigeons! If I look at the neural correlates, I will never see a thought. If I look at a thought, I'll never see its correlates.
There is a difference between theory and scientific theory. "Emergent properties" of the brain are not just theories or labels thrown on something we don't understand. Otherwise it would be a religious doctrine and not scientific theory. It is scientific theory with indication.
It's an intellectual sleight of hands.